Friday, November 12, 2010

Muy Kai Kon Lah into Site!

These are some of the kids at my site. The girl in front and boy next to her live at my house. Her name is Seraynut, nicknamed Nut and his name is Samnang, nicknamed Chud. They're great fun and they love teaching me Kmai. Plus if I tell them things that I like, then I know it will get back to my parents and they'll know what I like and don't like to eat, do etc.

For all you non-Kmai speakers out there, my blog post title means one and a half months at site and going strong. Well strong at least for now... it seems that most of the volunteers here oscillate between the highs and lows of volunteering here in Cambodia.

I've been living with my host family now and we're really starting to get into a swing of daily life. It's great I have a little ritual going now. Every morning I get up around 6:30 or 7 ish, whenever the construction workers decide to start jack- hammering outside my window. I go downstairs and make myself a cup of coffee. I now drink it black with a half teaspoon of sugar in it to cut the bitter taste of the grinds. Then I eat a piece of fruit if I have some... mostly asian pears or bananas (I know, I know... if you're reading this and you know me, you also know that in the States I hate bananas and anything associated with them, but here in Cambodia, they are soooo sweet!). They're usually the little mini ones and they're just a great snack to have, plus its great because they're cheap too and we volunteers don't get paid that much. And then sometimes, if I'm lucky and I have bread on hand, I have some jam on bread. I can't toast my bread here because that would require lighting a fire and of course, my host family doesn't think I'm capable of that- which they're probably right so I don't press the issue- so I just settle with my bread and jam. It's still pretty great. And if I'm really really lucky that morning, I get "nom kroat". This is literally translated into fruit orange bread. Sometimes my host brother buys me some and sometimes I go get them myself. They're really delicious and super bad for you probably, but some mornings they really can turn things around. Basically its like a beignet or a fried doughnut hole with sweet nums nums inside- for what a num nums is, I have no idea but its tasty! If you come to visit, be sure that I will introduce you to the Cambodia Nom Kroat!

more to come :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Slowly but surely

We're slowly but surely making our way of the "training phase" and into the "volunteer phase"... Training in now over and most of the volunteer's have come to Kampong Cham to get together and then go together to Phnom Pehn on Monday. Then this week, we'll be having a counterpart conference in PP. This is where all of our local co-teachers and co-health assistants come to PP (or at least that's the plan, whether they actually show up is an entirely different story) for a conference where they learn how to be a counter part and what sots of assistance we will need and not need etc. Should be interesting at least and I'll try to maybe blog about it in the next posting.

I left my family on Friday... that was sort awkward. Well... there's more to the story than just that because it gets even more awkward from my own doing... I'll explain, haha... sigh.

Ok so I told my family I was leaving on Friday, mostly everyone from our village was leaving then too. So in the morning, they were super sad and kept telling me that I shouldn't leave, stay... blah blah blah. I had a meeting to go to at 8 am so I leave in the morning for the meeting, with the intention of leaving later on that day (and the intention of eating lunch with my family- key!) with all the others leaving at the same time. I get to the meeting only to find out that everyone's leaving at 11 am. Big problem! I told my family that I was going to leave after lunch lol... so I definitely can't leave at 11 am. Conundrum- so I get anxious about what to do because if I stay that means that I have to get a taxi to Kampong Cham alone, which isn't that big of a deal but still... I didn't want to take one if I didn't absolutely have to... so I come home from the meeting only to find that my family has really already said goodbye and no one talks to me for the first 30 mins plus eventually once I get lunch, its NOT even remotely delicious and I'm left disappointed and slightly sad... sigh. But the story continues... so I leave my family around 1pm to walk to the market to catch a bus. But first on my way, is my girl friend Liz's house so I stop to hang out for a little while, its mid day and fricken hot out so I wait a few hours... they feed me, we're laughing, hanging out and then I realize that its around 4pm now. By now, Liz's family has invited me to sleep at their house and eat over for dinner... I contemplate it for about another 30 minutes and eventually decide that its ok, I'll just stay the night and the next morning I'll leave for Kampong Cham... This ends up being a great decision because I get a good night's rest with the exception of some dogs being eaten alive, but here in Cambodia you take what you can get lol... anywho... the story still continues... the next morning Liz and I are just hanging around and we're talking about how my family would react if they knew that I hadn't left. We start playing cards (which are illegal in this country) and who ends up moto-ing passed the house? My entire family!!! At first I hide and then I realized that there's really no hope, I've been spotted and then the jig is up from there. Also another's volunteer's host father moto's up to the house and sees me, which he is really the gossip of the town- so if it weren't for my family seeing, I'm sure tey would have heard about it anyways... haha... sigh, I just can't wait until I can learn enough Khmer to actually explain what went onand what happened to make me stay- because by now, they probably just think that I didn't like them enough to stay... fml

Sunday, September 12, 2010


So I guess it's about time that I actually put some photos up on this here blog. It takes a while so I'm not sure how many I'll be able to post but we'll see... love you all and miss you mucho!

Ok. soooo, that didn't work, I've been trying to figure out how to get the photo thing to manage all my photos on this page but it just ain't happening. If you really want to see picutres, try my facebook page and hopefully that will work as I am currently trying to upload photos right now.

So what's going on with me right now... Our group, titled K4 (the fourth group of volunteers to head into Cambodia) are getting ready for our second and final language exam. Basically language speakers from different parts of the country come and interview us to see what our language skills are. Last exam I ended up getting novice high, which is what we need to pass for this go around however I'm just hoping that I haven't back slided my language skills.

It's a little sad though becauase as we prepare for this language exam, we are also preparing to leave soon for our individual permenent sites :(....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend vacation- well, sort of!

Hey everyone, its officially been one month since I arrived in Cambodia. What to say!!! There's really nothing that I would be able to say that would sum up everything about me and my life heere with words.

I have found some yogis to hang with and that's comforting. I also have found that I have a rather large aversion to rice which is just great because that is their staple food here. It's rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Though the other foods that they cook for me are pretty tasty... I get pumpkin, greens, fish, corn, eggs, lotus flower stems... which are delicious by the way and other veggies. Right now I'm trying to get my host family, which included my "my (mom)",my Pok, day, and three younger sisters; they are 21, 17, and 15. I just recently learned their names but don't ask me to attempt to spell them, because surely I'll mess them up. I just resort usually to calling them bow-un ser-rai... which translates to little sister.

Right now we have all met up, meaning all the volunteers from the three training villages for the day and are spending our day off together. It's nice finally to get to see everyone where we can just relax. Usually, when we all get together we are working and attending sessions for one thing or another. They have us pretty busy... next week though, is site announcement!!!!

I'll be finding out where I'll be place for the next two years!!! It's kinda scary and exciting at the same time. We're hoping that we'll all be placed near people we like spending time together and away from any kind of bad site qualities lol... ie. no other volunteers within an 8 hour bus ride. lol

I'm trying to think if there's anything else to blog about... hmmmm, right now its around noon. I'm not really hungry yet though because I'm still full on last night's bai (rice)!

I do have some good news though, there was volunteer who was thinking about going home and today they just told me that they are going to try and stick it out for a little bit longer, which makes me happy. It's funny, you find yourself so much more close to the other volunteers when one is thinking about leaving, you get sad... but anywho more to come later... love you all and talk to you soon or post something!!!


Friday, July 23, 2010

Arrival in Cambodia

Yesterday we arrived with the group in Cambodia and we greeted by some K3s and other PC staff AND the Heat. Now all 50 or so of us know that no one was exaggerating about the heat when it comes to Cambodia. It's hot, you sweat a lot, and use a hankerchief almost constantly to mop it up :) That's how it goes in Cambodia.

Once we arrived and took a bus to our hotel, dropped our bags, and then headed over to the Peace Corps Headquarters. Its a nice compound with air conditioning where volunteers can recharge so to speak, there's internet, a library of books, and clean bottled water.

Then it was time for shots... half of us got our first series of shots yesterday: typhoid, Hep. A, Japanese Encephalitis, and Rabies... Awesome. After those- we got juice boxes. It was the highlight of the afternoon.

The food is awesome... spicy but cool... I'll write more when I get a chance but I want to let someone else use this computer because we don't know when we'll get internet again.

Lots of love,

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I guess I'm kinda in a waiting period now than the biggest surprise of where I'll be heading for my two years of PC service has been revealed. I have about 38-39 days left until I leave for San Fran and then onto Cambodia and before that I have now only about 2 more weeks until I go on vacation... sweet!

I am excited, nervous, happy, intimidated, anxious all at the same time now. I've been trying to figure out what to pack, learn Khmer, read up about Cambodia, say goodbye to everyone here in Yardley, and wrap up everything at work- so busy!

If any RPCV can comment on how to pack... it would be greatly appreciated. I don't even know where to start in term of luggage etc. Sigh... I have 37 more days left to figure it out I guess :)

More to come soon...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Beginning

So, I have about six weeks left until I leave the Land of the Brave and go to the Land of the unknown (ie. Cambodia). I was invited to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cambodia from September 30, 2010 until September 30, 2012. We start staging towards the end of July, which is Peace Corp's version of getting to know their policies/procedures plus meeting all the other volunteers (hello to you guys out there!)

To all of you who aren't PC applicants (and don't understand how slow and painful the application process is) I thought that I'd give you a little timeline of my application process.

  • August 26, 2009- Online Application Started
  • August 31, 2009- Received email from recruiter acknowledging application and confirming that she sent out a packet of additional documents to complete
  • Later that week- totally disappointed with the lack of interesting documents I need to complete (need to get finger printed, complete a background check, and have a letter notarized for my student loans)
  • October 20, 2009- Receive e-mail from recruiter asking if I'm having trouble completing the documents (apparently I took longer than usual)
  • October 21, 2009- My account was put on inactive status, I promptly emailed my recruiter and was told that when I get my documents in, she'll reactivate my application... whoops!
  • November 17, 2009- Recruiter confirmed that she received documents, my application was reactivated :)
  • December 1, 2009- Received e-mail from recruiter asking for an interview date
  • Later that day- Couldn't stop smiling or stop thinking about the interview!
  • December 9, 2009- Interview in NYC, had an awesome day, interview went great!
  • December 11, 2009- Officially nominated for Teaching English as a Second Language, in Africa, departing in October 2010.
  • Same day- Receive e-mail requesting me to fill out a vegetarian questionnaire
  • Later that day- Seriously think about what being a vegetarian means to me and decide that I will wait until I get in country to experience their food before making any changes to my diet
  • December 18, 2009- Receive interesting documents from Peace Corps regarding medical clearances! Very overwhelming and then I proceeded to email the medical officer assigned to my application about 5 or 6 times in regards to random questions about the forms
  • February 2, 2010- Peace Corps acknowledged that they have received my medical forms and now I am "officially" undergoing my medical clearance!!!
  • March 9, 2010- Sent an email to recruiter letting her know that I started volunteering to gain more ESL experience and make my application more competitive.
  • March 10, 2010- Also received an e-mail from the Education Office asking if I was able to leave sooner than October 2010. I said yes, and was immediately transferred to a program leaving in September for Eastern Europe.
  • April 17, 2010- Received dental clearance.
  • May 18, 2010- Received medical clearance and although I thought I'd be happier at this point to hear more, I was starting to get used to "waiting" for more information from the Peace Corps.
  • Same Day- Received e-mail from a Placement Officer asking if I would agree to change my placement to Asia leaving in July or August. I consider leaving earlier rather than later but then determine I'll just be happier once I know something more final... so I agree.
  • May 21, 2010- Sent e-mail to Education Office updating my resume.
  • May 24, 2010- Received e-mail from Placement Office asking if I was comfortable riding a bike 1-3 miles per day. I laughed when I got the e-mail and responded quickly with a "YES!"
  • May 25, 2010- Received Official Invite to Cambodia!

And that my friends, is how my application process went! I've read other volunteer and their timelines have been slower, some have been faster. I guess it all depends on the individuals application and what types of issues, whether it'd be medical, dental, financial etc. they have.

Now that unknown County of Assignment is known, I only have more things to do, for instance packing. This woman who I work with asked me if I starting packing yet. I could only laugh and then explained I was more of the "pack the night before" type. I mean I do have 6 weeks to pack, right? She didn't think it was that funny and then I started wondering too... should I start at least thinking about it? Maybe tomorrow :)

With love,